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EastEnders cot death debate

Lynda Moyo thinks the ‘distressed’ and ‘appalled’ should get off their soap box

Written by . Published on January 10th 2011.

EastEnders cot death debate

If it’s not Corrie’s Christmas carnage, it’s EastEnders’ New Year’s insensitivity.

The writers of the London-based soap have hit the headlines with their cot death/baby swap storyline involving Kat Moon and Ronnie Mitchell. I for one took that particular story with the same fictional pinch of salt I do with all soaps. Pity it left such a bad taste in the mouth for a minority.

EastEnders viewers have always and will always turn on for a good dose of doom and gloom. And as an EastEnders spokesperson simply put it: “Our job is to be a drama”.

Around 10m of us watched the very real (followed by very surreal) turn of events over the Christmas period as Ronnie Mitchell discovered her newborn James had died of cot death before sneaking into the Queen Vic pub and swapping him for Kat Moon’s newborn, Tommy.

Shocking, thought-provoking, and utterly ridiculous at times; the storyline is everything we should expect of a soap opera and more. And it’s the ‘more’ that’s rattled a few cages, most of which appear to belong to ‘appalled’ and ‘distressed’ mothers. The same mothers who watch the soap four times a week for the reasons they’re now slating it.

TV watchdog Ofcom has received 374 complaints about the storyline so far. An Ofcom spokesperson told Confidential: “We are currently looking at them to see whether we are going to investigate or not.”

Meanwhile Daily Mail columnist, TV and radio presenter Anne Diamond has given her two pence worth against the soap which is broadcast by the BBC – the company she is employed by. Speaking of the offending cot death/baby swap story, she said EastEnders had “taken a real tragedy and made it cheap” and called it “tawdry and silly.”

Granted, Anne has her reasons for her concern about cot death. Her son Sebastian died from the syndrome in 1991.

But although for many people the storyline made uncomfortable viewing, covering topics such as cot death raises public awareness of the issue and gets people talking. The fact that EastEnders chose to create another twist to this story to get some more bums on seats is besides the point. If viewers can look past their own personal affiliations with the storyline, they’ll see the show has in fact created discussion on two important issues – cot death and child abduction.

EastEnders viewers have always and will always turn on for a good dose of doom and gloom. And as an EastEnders spokesperson simply put it: “Our job is to be a drama”.

What with years of murder, teen pregnancy, rape, kidnap, violence, disasters, abduction, abortion, and adultery (and that’s just scratching the surface) I’d say if you’re one of the 0.06 per cent of viewers affected so deeply by soap dramatisations then it’s time to trade your EastEnders addiction for something a little less hard to swallow.

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jmmJanuary 14th 2011.

great article, sums up what most of us are thinking. glad it's not just me thinking some people are taking this a bit too far.

rosieJanuary 14th 2011.

I actually wish that my life (and the whole world) was so frickin awesome I had nowt to get upset about other than some rubbish tv show. If half the complainers put the same amount of energy into supporting preventative research or supportive schemes/charities, then 'enders would be running a completely different storyline.

AnonymousJanuary 18th 2011.

What do you expect, soap viewers by their very nature aren't exactly an intelligent demographic.

If they had half a braincell between them they'd probably realise that going out and living a life (as opposed to sitting at home getting fat watching a fictional one) would be more enjoyable.

Articles like this make me glad I don't own a tv :)

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